Preparing for the Long-Term Digital Future of Libraries
Breeding, Marshall, Computers in Libraries
Let's turn the calendar forward a decade or so and consider that libraries might face relative changes that might take place in the reading and entertainment materials that make up their collections. We can project at least some aspects of this world based on trends well underway today. Although many things could happen to impact the kinds of change and the timetables, it's important to begin thinking now about long-term library futures.
The Shift to Digital Formats
The obvious changes to anticipate involve major shifts toward digital formats, distributed through license arrangements, rather than physical materials available for purchase. Different types of materials created by different publishing niches will each travel toward this destination on their own timeline, but it seems clear, at least by what's happening today, that scholarly journals, newspapers and other periodicals, books, music, and movies are all headed in this common direction.
Serials and periodicals. These kinds of materials were the earliest to get on the track toward all-digital distribution. Even today, most academic libraries have largely experienced the transition of their scholarly journals from print to electronic versions. Many of the university libraries that I'm familiar with have replaced the expansive ranges of bound serials and periodicals with subscription ejournal products. Extensive, often comprehensive, backfiles provide convenient access to this material, though libraries continue to struggle with the rising costs of ejournal content, despite its transformation to fully digital publishing and distribution methods once believed to have the opportunity to drastically reduce expense.
In the scholarly publishing arena, we can anticipate a greater variety of business arrangements, such as open access publishing, where authors pay publishing costs to support perpetual free access to the materials. We might anticipate a vigorous competition between commercial publishers and universities that selfpublish their scholarly output. The scholarly publishing sector has many different dynamics in motion, making it difficult to predict its shape in the relatively long-term future.
Music and other audio materials. The music industry has gone through a tumultuous history since …
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Publication information: Article title: Preparing for the Long-Term Digital Future of Libraries. Contributors: Breeding, Marshall - Author. Magazine title: Computers in Libraries. Volume: 31. Issue: 1 Publication date: January-February 2011. Page number: 24+. © 2008 Information Today, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2011 Gale Group.
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